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Diabetic Retinopathy

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes (type 1 and type 2) affects more than 29 million people in the United States and is the leading cause of new blindness among people ages 20 to 75 years old. Your retina must be healthy for you to see properly. However, some conditions of the eye cause vision loss or permanent blindness.

The board-certified eye doctors at Jaffe Eye Institute can help you better understand diabetic retinopathy, minimize the progression of this disease, and provide the necessary treatment.

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and a leading cause of low vision and blindness and in adults in the United States. The condition is caused by damage to the small blood vessels that nourish tissue and nerve cells in the retina.

The retina is a layer of cells inside the eye that is responsible for collecting light and enabling you to see. In some people with diabetic retinopathy, the tiny blood vessels of the retina may swell and leak fluid into the macula, the small sensitive area in the center of the retina, causing blurry vision. In others, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina.

Symptoms and Screening

If you have diabetic retinopathy, at first you may not notice changes to your vision. Over time, diabetic retinopathy can get worse and cause blurry vision or vision loss.

Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes and occurs in people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. If you have the condition or are at risk for developing it, your doctor will want to examine your eyes regularly.

This will include a close examination of the inside of your eye, the retina, and other structures for any signs of change in the blood vessels. You should also report any changes in your vision to your ophthalmologist as soon as possible.

Intravitreal Injections for Diabetic Retinopathy

Many patients benefit from injections of specialized drugs into the eye to control the progression of diabetic retinopathy. At Jaffe Eye Institute, we administer anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) treatments, which are injected directly into the eye after the surface has been numbed. Research has shown that VEGF contributes to the growth of the abnormal vessels that cause diabetic retinopathy.

For those with diabetic retinopathy, three common anti-VEGF medications include Avastin®, Eylea®, and Lucentis®. By blocking the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the retina and macula, these medications help control retinal bleeding and manage the swelling of these vessels that may make your vision blurry if not treated in a timely manner. Avastin, Eylea, and Lucentis have also been proven to help improve visual acuity.

The procedure is simple, quick, and relatively painless, and it can be done in the office in most cases. Your doctor will complete a thorough examination before recommending any treatment.

Diabetic Screening

As diabetics should know, seeing your eye doctor annually is vital to screen for retinal complications of diabetes. Just as you check your blood sugar and watch your diet, you should maintain screenings for your eyes.

Diabetics who have poorly controlled blood sugar can expect to see more problems in all areas of the body, including the eyes. It is important to remember that just because you can’t see any damage and your eyes feel fine, doesn’t mean that they are.

Jaffe Eye Institute understands this and wants to assure you that each of our diabetic patients will receive a complete, comprehensive exam and the best treatment available for your unique case.

For comprehensive diabetic eye care in Aventura and Delray Beach, Florida, visit Jaffe Eye Institute today. To make an appointment with one of our ophthalmologists, call (305) 945-7433 for Aventura or (561) 499-0232 for Delray Beach. You can also request an appointment online.

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